New Zealand, Nauru, to accept asylum seekers

Sunday, September 2, 2001

CHRISTMAS ISLAND, Australia -- New Zealand and the Pacific island state of Nauru agreed Saturday to accept more than 400 asylum seekers stranded on a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, breaking a six-day diplomatic deadlock over the fate of the refugees.

The asylum seekers -- mostly Afghans -- were adrift in a leaky Indonesian ferry when the Norwegian cargo ship Tampa rescued them on Monday. But when the freighter tried to deliver them to remote Christmas Island, Australia refused to accept them.

When the Tampa ventured closer to the port on Wednesday, Prime Minister John Howard ordered elite commandos to storm the ship. Widely criticized for the action, Australia engaged in frenzied negotiations with other countries to solve the crisis while still saving face by not allowing the migrants to come ashore.

House chaplain found shot in apparent suicide

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia medical examiner says the death of longtime House Chaplain James D. Ford was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Ford, 70, who ministered to House members and their families from 1979 until his retirement last year, died Monday aboard his boat at a Washington marina. Medical Examiner Jonathan Arden told the Post that Ford's death was ruled a suicide.

Ford, a Lutheran pastor, was a native of South Dakota. His duties included opening and closing each legislative session and providing counseling and pastoral services to members of the House of Representatives and their staffs.

Russia to spend more on schools than defense

MOSCOW -- Kicking off Russia's school year Saturday, President Vladimir Putin said that for the first time next year the government was set to spend more money on education than on defense.

Russia's education system is chronically underfunded, and university admissions are plagued by corruption. Long-planned reform initiatives -- including extending school education from 11 to 12 years and introducing standardized tests for high school graduation -- have yet to move beyond the discussion stage.

In an address to students at the Moscow State Pedagogical University, Putin said schools are given priority over military spending in the draft budget submitted to parliament, according to Russian media reports.

Investigators uncover remains in burned house

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Investigators found human remains believed to be those of James Beck on Saturday in the burnt shell of the home where the one-time police officer barricaded himself during a deadly gun battle.

The remains were lying on top of an assault rifle. A second rifle was within reach, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Carl Deeley.

Beck is believed to have killed 40-year-old Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Hagop "Jake" Kuredjian during a dramatic siege Friday.

Beck, 35, allegedly fired 150 rounds at federal officers and sheriff's officials who tried to serve a search warrant at his home in this affluent city 22 miles north of Los Angeles.

--From wire reports

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